Thursday, May 24, 2018

Malheur in May

I visited Malheur NWR this past week with my husband Alan to see what birds had arrived in mid-May. We saw a very different cast of characters than on our trip one month ago in mid-April. The Snow Geese, Ross’s Geese, most of the Sandhill Cranes, and the large numbers of ducks that we saw in April had all left. Yellow Warblers, Bullock's Orioles, and Western Tanagers (below) were abundant.
Tap or click on any photo to see sharper version.

Yellow-breasted Chats were singing at the entrance to Page Springs Campground, and all along the trail at the south end of the campground.

Western Kingbirds were everywhere, plus we saw several Eastern Kingbirds.

Bobolinks arrived around May 15, and a good place to see them is along Diamond Lane near the Diamond School. I watched several in the distance, disappearing into the dandelions in the field, then one appeared right on the fence post next to me along the road.

Two Lewis's Woodpeckers had been hanging around HQ for a few days.

The Ferruginous Hawk nest along Hwy 205 is being used again this year (it appeared to be empty last year), in the lone tree on the west side of the road, between MP 16 and 17. There were at least 2 baby hawks in the nest with an adult on Tuesday.

Diamond Craters is always a treat to visit, especially in the early morning. A Chukar ran across the road in front of our car on the way in. One Black-throated Sparrow was singing in the distance on top of a sage bush. A Vesper Sparrow was singing at crater #8. An adult Great Horned Owl and two young were perched along the rocky edge inside crater #6. Also at crater #6 were a Canyon Wren, a Rock Wren, and an Ash-throated Flycatcher (below).

Malheur HQ has a new gift shop, run by the Friends of Malheur NWR, located in the house-like building nearest to the photo blind, and next to the lilac hedge. The gift shop has been separated from the visitor center that is still in its same location.

On the way home we stopped at Idlewild Campground, just 17 miles north of Burns, and saw 2 Black-backed Woodpeckers.

The highlight of the trip for me was finding a Broad-winged Hawk that flew over HQ on May 20, and being able to capture a photo that shows its field marks.

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